Nicole Eisenman

(b. 1965)

About The Artist

Brooklyn-based artist Nicole Eisenman's bold, idiosyncratic work eludes easy categorization. With its unique cocktail of lucid and imaginative elements and gloriously awkward merging of the banal with the absurd - not to mention its inversion of mainstream, cookie-cutter conventions with the fabulously offbeat quirks of counterculture lifestyles - Eisenman's work wields a distinct figurative language all of her own making. Her potent and decidedly maximalist works, which include paintings, drawings, sculptures, collages, installations and videos, run the gamut in terms of both subject matter and medium. "I've never been able to hone in on one way of doing things," she admits. "For years, it caused me a lot of anxiety, but I'm finally okay with it."

Eisenman's singular voice is bolstered by the dizzying gallimaufry of references to which she alludes in her works. She freely summons a motley mix of art historical allusions, referencing masterpieces created by the likes of Picasso, Munch, Giotto, Goya, Cézanne, and Holbein. Yet, as Massimiliano Gioni, the artistic director of New York's New Museum, stresses, "In her revision, criticism and expansion of the canon of art history, Nicole not only refuses certain positions but also rediscovers and opens up her work to other traditions that have been marginalized or put aside-and whether it is the work of men or women is even less important." And Eisenman isn't afraid of convoluting her visual narratives by throwing a proverbial wrench into the sources she references by mixing in additional citations from those derived from such diverse sources as Shakespearian dramas, the idioms of Social Realism and Neo-Expressionism, and an uneasy mélange of comics, politics, and pornography. "She doesn't passively genuflect" in front of the sources from which she draws, Gioni further notes. "She resurrects it and camouflages it into our present." Pulling as much from art history as from popular culture, her arresting tableaus allude to a kind of warped sublimity where everyday acts such as sleeping, eating, walking, or making love become at once tragic, comical, dark, awkward, absurd, grotesque, and above all unsettling, if in many respects indeed cathartic.